Krishnamacharya from Wikipedia
Sri Tirumala Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) was born on November 18 in Muchukundapuram, in Chitradurga district of Karnataka state in India and lived to be over a hundred years old. His parents were Sri Tirumala Srivinasa Tattacharya, a well-known teacher of the Vedas, and Shrimati Ranganayakamma and he was the eldest with two brothers and three sisters.

Krishnamacharya spent much of his youth traveling through India studying the six darshanas or Indian philosophies: Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Vedanta.[1] His students include many of today’s most influential teachers: Sri BKS Iyengar, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the late Indra Devi and Krishnamacharya’s own sons T.K.V. Desikachar and T.K. Sribhashyam. Although his knowledge and teaching has influenced yoga throughout the world he never left his native India over the course of his life. It is important to note that Jois and Iyengar teach based on their own experiences with Krishnamacharya in the 1930s in Mysore, when they were both young men; their styles are reflective of yoga that is appropriate to younger students and thus heavily emphasise asana practice. However, teachers such as T.K.V. Desikachar, A.G. Mohan and Srivatsa Ramaswami teach a broader part of Krishanamacharya's teachings, noting that yoga is more than just asana and must be tuned to the student, taking account of health, energy, physique, gender, place and age.


    * 1 Biography
    * 2 Approach to Healing
    * 3 References
    * 4 Sources
    * 5 See also


Krishnamacharya began learning to speak and write Sanskrit from his father before the age of five and claimed that at age twelve to have received the ancient teachings of the Yoga Rahasya, a long lost yogic text, from a vision of the ancient sage Nathamuni, who is said to be related to Krishnamacharya. After returning home from this mystical experience his family moved to Mysore, second largest city in the Indian state of Karnataka, and Krishnamacharya began a more formal schooling. At age eighteen Krishnamacharya left home to attend the university at Benares, a city of hundreds of temples also known as Varanasi. While at the university he focused his studies on logic and Sanskrit, working with Bramhashri Shivakumar Shastry, “one of the greatest grammarians of the age”.[2] After leaving the university he returned to Mysore and studied Vedanta and learned to play the veena, one of the most ancient stringed instruments in India. In 1914 he once again left for Benares to attend classes at Queens College, where he eventually earned a number of teaching certificates. During the first year he had little or no financial support from his family so in order to eat he followed the rules that were laid down for religious beggars: only approaching seven households each day and offering a prayer “in return for wheat flour to mix with water for cakes”.[3] Krishnamacharya eventually left Queens College to study the six darshanas or schools of thought in Vedic philosophy at Patna University.

During all this time Krishnamacharya continued to practice the yoga that his father had taught him as a young boy. Many of his instructors recognized his abilities in this area and supported his progress and asked that he teach their children. During his vacation time he would take pilgrimages into the Himalayas – it was during one of these trips that he decided to find Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari, a yoga teacher rumored to live in the mountains. Eventually Krishnamacharya found Sri Brahmachari’s school which consisted of a cave at the foot of Mount Kailash and spent seven years studying the “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, learning asanas and pranayama, and studying the therapeutic aspects of yoga”.[4] As tradition holds, at the end of his studies with Sri Ramamohan, Krishnamacharya asked what payment would be – Ramamohan responded that Krishnamacharya was to “take a wife, raise children and be a teacher of Yoga”.[5]

From Tibet Krishnamacharya returned to Southern India to study Ayurveda, the traditional medical practice of India, as well as Nyaya, a school of Indian philosophy concerned with logic and epistemology. In 1924 he was asked by the Maharajah of Mysore, a man who looked to yoga to help cure his many ailments, to open a yoga school where he taught until 1955.[6] The Maharajah was so impressed with Krishnamacharya that he was hired to teach the royal family and given the wing of a nearby palace to start the Yogashala or yoga school.[7] Because many of his students at this point in his life were active boys he developed a vigorous style of yoga aimed at building strength and stamina that is known today as the popular Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.[8] He soon became a trusted advisor of the Maharajah as well as a sought after yoga instructor and healer. After winning its independence from the United Kingdom one of the first acts of the new Indian political establishments was to dethrone the Maharaja ending the long reign of support that Krishnamacharya received from the ruler.

After leaving Mysore Krishnamacharya moved to Bangalore for two years and then was invited to relocate to Chennai, the fourth largest city in India, by a well known lawyer who sought his help in healing from a stroke. Now in his sixties, Krishnamacharya’s reputation for being a strict and intimidating teacher now mellowed: although he was still considered strict concerning his practice and teaching, he showed a more gentle compassionate side. Krishnamacharya lived and taught in Chennai until he slipped into a coma and died in 1989 at one hundred years of age. Although many considered him a Yoga Master he continued to call himself a student because he felt that he was always “studying, exporing and experimenting” with the practice.[9]

Approach to Healing

Krishnamacharya “believed Yoga to be India’s greatest gift to the world”[10] – although many people approach it as a spiritual practice he also incorporated a great deal of physical healing because it is difficult for a person to grow if they have a great deal of discomfort from illness.[11] Through the teachings Krishnamacharya received from his father and other instructors he realized that every person is “absolutely unique”[12] and he felt that the most important part of teaching yoga was that the student must be “taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time”.[13] This means that the path of yoga will mean different things for different people and each person must be taught in a manner that they understand clearly.[14] Because of this individualized approach, it is impossible to explain Krishnamacharya’s process of teaching in full.

Krishnamacharya was not only a yoga instructor, he was also considered a physician of Ayurvedic medicine and “possessed enormous knowledge of nutrition, herbal medicine, the use of oils, and other remedies”.[15] This gave him the ability to approach an individual’s problem in a well-informed manner. When he began working with a person he would conduct a very detailed examination to determine the most efficient path to take. He would take the persons pulse, examine the color of the skin, listen to the quality of the breath, among many other things. During the time of diagnosis, Krishnamacharya would look for what “upset or hindered the harmonious union of the body, mind, and spirit”[16] – even though a disease is focused in a particular area, he knew that it would affect many other systems in the body, both mental and physical. At some point during or after the initial examination, he would eventually ask the person, if he or she will be able to follow his guidance. This question was asked because he knew that if the person could not trust him fully there was little chance of being healed. If the answer was “yes” the “healing relationship would begin”[17] but if the person showed hesitation he would send him or her away.

Once a person began seeing Krishnamacharya, he would work with him or her on a number of levels including adjusting their diet; creating herbal medicines; and setting up a series of yoga postures that would be most beneficial. When instructing a person on the practice of yoga, Krishnamacharya particularly stressed the importance of combining breath work (pranayama) with the postures (asanas) of yoga and meditation (dhyana) to reach the desired goal.[18] He would continue to see the person approximately once a week to monitor the progress until he or she was healed.

Although Krishnamacharya stressed that the most important Yoga texts were the traditional Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya and the Mahabharata’s Bhagavad Gita, his greatest strength was the ability to take “the ancient teaching of Yoga and Indian philosophy” and combine them within a modern day framework. By doing this he was able to revive the practice of yoga in a manner that is as “accurate and powerful” as it is “practical and relevant”.[19]


   1. ^ Kazlev
   2. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 38
   3. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 40
   4. ^ Ruiz
   5. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 44
   6. ^ TKV Desikachar - Heart of Yoga, xvi
   7. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 87
   8. ^ Ruiz
   9. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 104
  10. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 123
  11. ^ TKV Desikachar - Heart of Yoga, xviii
  12. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 20
  13. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 22
  14. ^ TKV Desikachar - Heart of Yoga, xix
  15. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 124
  16. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 129
  17. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 131
  18. ^ TKV Desikachar - Health, Healing & Beyond, 111
  19. ^ K Desikachar

Sources (January 2007)

    * Desikachar, Kausthub. "Our Teacher." Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
    * Desikachar, Kausthub. The Yoga of the Yogi : The legacy of T Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, 2005.
    * Desikachar, T.K.V. The Heart of Yoga : Developing a personal practice. Inner Traditions India, 1st ed., 1995. ISBN 0-89281-533-7
    * Desikachar, T.K.V. & Cravens, R.H. Health, Healing & Beyond : Yoga and the living tradition of Krishnamacharya. Aperture, 1998. ISBN 0-89381-941-7
    * Kazlev, M. Alan. Kheper - The Six Darshanas. uploaded 27 May 1998, most recent update 10 July 2006. [1]
    * Ruiz, Fernando Pagés. "Krishnamacharya's Legacy." Yoga Journal. Yogajournal.com.

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